Foley Artists – Beware the Sound of Fear
“It’s not a horror movie. It is a Santini movie.”
Released in Europe last year at the Edinburgh Film Festival, Berberian Sound Studio is a thriller movie focusing on the work of a sound engineer. Specifically, this unique film focuses on the job of a foley artist in the 1970s, trying to make authentic and stand-out sound effects for a horror production that he has been hired to work on.
It provides a great view into how sound effects are created and added to a film. It’s incredible to think of the imagination required and the creativity that it takes to figure out exactly what some sounds should actually sound like. How do you know what a bone snapping should sound like? What does it sound like when someone is getting viciously stabbed? This is the job of a foley artist, and we do have a series of classes dedicated to this art form.
During the 7th cycle of the CRAS MRPII program, three days of the week are dedicated to doing sound for film and post production. In recent years we have replaced the audio for parts of Pirates of the Caribbean, and this year we have been doing the audio for Avatar. Students get to learn how to use timecode, route signal through the board and record to tape, as well as Pro Tools, and have everything synchronized together. One of the unique mic techniques that students will use is the Decca Tree configuration, which is one of the more common spaced-pair mic setups. Part of these classes also include doing a scoring session with an orchestra to replace some of the theme songs of the films.Check out our photo shoot from one of the scoring sessions.
Even in today’s world of special effects, computers, sound libraries and DAWs, a lot of the time we will still make sounds from scratch. Whether it’s walking across a wood pallet to recreate the footsteps of a pirate walking a pier, or plunging a knife into a head of lettuce to get the juicy sound of someone being murdered.
Later on in the Conservatory program, we offer commercial production classes, where students do voice-over and sound replacement work for television commercials, movie trailers and radio advertisements.
This film has won numerous awards overseas, including Best Achievement in Production and Best Technical Achievement for Sound. It does seem hard to track down a good copy of this movie that will work in a conventional North American DVD player, but there are some copies of the original European Blu-Ray release on Amazon, and it does appear that NetFlix has intentions on stocking it sometime this year, although no date has been confirmed yet.
But, to hold you over, here is a trailer for the film. It’s awesome to see the vibe and presence of the history of film post production, including all the vintage audio gear, the sound booths, and the creation process!